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The GSMA’s Mobile Connect platform

Mobile and digital services are catching on like wildfire. It would be hard to find someone who doesn’t want to be able to utilise their smartphones more than they do today, be it to share photos online, or conveniently pay for a service, and a whole lot more. That’s on the demand side of things from folks like you and I.

And whilst there is some apprehension about using services when confidential data is involved, this hasn’t stopped the service providers from innovating further to try entice with really useful, relevant and convenient applications and services.

All this is against a bleak background of rampant cybercriminal activity in the digital space, and cyberhackers that always seem to be one if not three steps ahead of security vendors.

Not fazed by this however, the GSMA (GSM Association or Groupe Speciale Mobile Association) commissioned KRC Research to gather views of smartphone users in China, about authentication and identification over the Internet and their apps. Two other similar surveys had also been done in United Kingdom (UK) and North America markets.

Overall, GSMA Vice President and Head of Personal Data & Mobile Identity, Marie Austenaa, found that results in China were “indicative” of those in UK and North America. Worth noting also, is that the research found acceptance to use the phone as an authentication mechanism, had been overwhelmingly positive.

The Mobile Connect platform

KRC Research found that Chinese consumers expect their mobile devices to take on more significant roles in their lives, when it comes to many daily activities performed on the phone.

In a list of organisations that Chinese consumers trust, mobile operators ranked third (14% feel very secure) after banks (25%) and governments (18%). Overall, over half the respondents (54%) felt secure with mobile operators than Internet service providers like RenRen and WeiBo.

This actually optimally positions mobile operators as providers of secure digital authentication. Austenaa added, “The GSMA (via Mobile Connect) emphasises protection of privacy. We have guidelines about how data will be handled, and we work with governments, banks, retailers and more to deliver their services.”

Because of the GSMA’s role in representing over 800 mobile operators across 220 countries worldwide, Austenaa opined, “GSMA is in a good position to see what operators are doing and unify their efforts onto one platform.”

She also noted that European countries like Sweden, Estonia, Switzerland and more have embarked upon something similar to Mobile Connect, but these efforts will likely be folded into Mobile Connect because of the similar architecture, and the available APIs that enable integration.

Mobile Connect which was launched as a proof-of concept in February of 2014, is meant to be an operator-led service for secure authentication and identification,

Progress… or not

Things have been progressing well since 2014, and Austenaa noted how Asian markets are moving faster with regards to Mobile Connect efforts. She also noted pilots that are currently undergoing with local Malaysian mobile operators like Celcom, Digi and also online retailer, Mudah.com.my.

Despite this positive progress, Austenaa found it is a challenge of mobile operators worldwide, to forget that they are competitors.

Austenna said, “Mobile Connect is an ingredient in a competitor’s service as well. But it needs to have uniformity in terms of APIs and the interface. Mobile operators also have to learn to work together (in that regard).”

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